China, rattled by US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo’s strong support for India’s efforts to defend its sovereignty – a reference to the military stand-off in Ladakh – has said in a statement that the “boundary question is a bilateral matter” and there is “no space” for a third party to intervene.
Mike Pompeo had said yesterday that the US “will stand with India as they confront threats to their sovereignty, liberty.”
After talks with National Security Advisor Ajit Doval, in which the Ladakh confrontation was discussed, Mr Pompeo had said: “The US will stand with India in its efforts to defend its sovereignty and its liberty… Our nations are committed to working together into expanding our partnerships across many fronts.”
Beijing said the development of bilateral ties between countries should not “infringe upon legitimate rights and interests of a third party” and should be conducive to regional peace, stability and development.
“The boundary question is a bilateral matter between China and India. The two sides have been discussing disengagement and deescalation in the border areas through diplomatic and military channels. China and India have the wisdom and ability to handle their differences properly. There’s no space for a third party to intervene,” said a statement released by the Chinese Embassy.
China also accused the US of pitching an Indo-Pacific strategy to maintain its dominance. “The ‘Indo-Pacific strategy’ proposed by the US is to stir up confrontation among different groups and blocs and to stoke geopolitical competition, in a bid to maintain the dominance of the US, organize closed and exclusive ideological cliques,” its statement said.
Beijing hit out at what it called the “behaviour of engaging in unilateralism and bullying” and added: “By hyping up the so-called ‘China threat’, the US is in fact making pretexts for maintaining its global hegemony and containing China’s development.”
Mr Pompeo arrived in India on Monday along with Defence Secretary Mark T Esper for the third edition of the US-India 2+2 dialogue.
India and the US signed a landmark Basic Exchange and Cooperation Agreement (BECA) that will allow sharing of high-end military technology, classified satellite data and critical information between the two countries.
The long-negotiated BECA crystallised in the backdrop of India’s tense border standoff with China in eastern Ladakh since May, which escalated after a clash at Galwan Valley in which 20 Indian soldiers and an unknown number of Chinese soldiers were killed. In July, Mr Pompeo criticised China for its aggressive moves against its neighbours, including “instigating” a deadly confrontation with India in eastern Ladakh, saying Beijing cannot threaten countries and bully them in the Himalayas.